Tom Trbojevic has no intention of relinquishing his prized NSW jersey by withdrawing from the State of Origin series next year. Following a difficult 2023 season, marked by a failed finals bid for his beloved club Manly and the personal setback of only participating in 11 matches due to injury, Trbojevic has reflected on his commitment to the Blues.
2021 Dally M Player of the Year, Trbojevic, also touched upon his potential participation in Australia’s game in October, the anticipated arrival of Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks to Manly, the inconsistent performance of Josh Schuster, and the hopes for Brad Fittler to maintain his head coach position with the NSW Blues.
Just two minutes into the second game of this year’s State of Origin series, Trbojevic suffered a pec tear. This injury not only ruptured his season, leaving him unable to play for Manly from round 15, but also diminished the Sea Eagles‘ championship prospects with the loss of their finest player.
The recent stellar performance of Knights star Kalyn Ponga, who declined a request from Queensland coach Billy Slater to join in Origin III to concentrate on Newcastle, sparked a debate on whether Trbojevic, the Fox Sports ambassador, should also withdraw from the Blues’ selection for the following year. While Trbojevic does understand this perspective, he hinted he’s unlikely to back down from representing his state.
“Playing Origin is a fantastic opportunity,” Trbojevic expressed. He continued, “Giving up and discarding it is not what I seek. Even though it has negative effects at the club level, I relish playing Origin. Saying that I am contemplating withdrawal would feel like I’m unjust to the jersey.”
When asked about the future of Fittler, who has indicated his desire to continue coaching to the NSWRL Board, Trbojevic responded: “I would love to see him try again. Despite not obtaining the desired results over the past two years, I’m confident he’ll have the drive to reverse the outcomes next year.”
Manly’s decision to invest $800,000 per season in the unpredictable Josh Schuster is causing growing apprehension among Sea Eagles enthusiasts, especially given the 22-year-old was relegated to reserve grade by year-end. Trbojevic shared his hope that Schuster would use the off-season introspectively to work on his legacy as a footballer.
While the image of Luke Brooks, a decade-long Wests Tigers halfback, donning Manly colours may seem unusual at first glance, Trbojevic highlighted how the seasoned playmaker will bolster the squad alongside Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans. “His arrival to our team is beneficial for both parties, and I’m very eager to collaborate with him to push each other to greater heights,” Trbojevic stated.
In terms of Manly’s inaugural season under head coach Anthony Seibold, Trbojevic admitted the frustration of missing the finals yet saw it as an opportunity for growth moving forward. He also shared his prediction for the 2023 title, favouring Penrith if key player, Jarome Luai, recovers from his shoulder injury.
Despite displaying stellar form during training before Manly finished the 2023 season, Trbojevic admitted that his pectoral muscle is yet to fully recover. Coupled with no game-time since June, this has left him doubtful of selection for Australia’s Test team for the Pacific Championships in October.